By Muriel Sylvestre. Bathroom Lighting. Published at Wednesday, March 07th, 2018 - 11:38:46 AM.
Lensed damp or wet-rated downlights work, or you can use spotlights placed outside the “danger zone.” If ambient light levels are high enough, there’s probably no need for a dedicated fixture for the tub. Some high-end whirlpools are available with (code legal) underwater mood lights for romantic effect.
Since the bathroom is sometimes used in the middle of the night, it’s critical to provide some, but not too much, light by which to safely maneuver. When the eyes are adjusted to darkness, as they are when waking up from a sound sleep, very few footcandles are needed. (A full moon is just .01fc!) Flipping on bright overhead lights will be blinding and disruptive. A 5-watt nightlight may be just right.
Nothing beats natural daylight for brightening your mood and setting the circadian rhythms that regulate wake/sleep cycles. There’s a huge and growing body of scientific literature around this phenomenon. That’s why it’s ideal to design a bathroom with as much natural light as possible. If planning to include one window, why not have two?—especially if they can be on adjacent or opposite walls to balance the illumination. To circumvent the common issue of large windows over the tub that are always covered to provide privacy, why not switch to bottom-up shades so you have daylight and views with privacy?
Vertical fixtures or sconces mounted on either side of the mirror are best for casting an even light across the face. But given the size and positioning of some vanity mirrors, sidelights can be impractical (mounting them directly to the mirror is always an option, but at greater planning and cost). Only then do I suggest a fixture for over the mirror. It should be placed 75 to 80 inches above the floor and, like all vanity lighting, contain at least 150 watts — ideally spread over a fixture that's at least 24 inches long so that the light will wash evenly over the hair and face.
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